Canadian Art

See It

Luis Camnitzer: Playing with Ideas

Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver Sep 30 to Dec 4 2011
Luis Camnitzer <em>Landscape as an Attitude</em> 1979 Courtesy Daros Latinamerica Collection Zürich / photo Peter Schälchli Luis Camnitzer Landscape as an Attitude 1979 Courtesy Daros Latinamerica Collection Zürich / photo Peter Schälchli

Luis Camnitzer <em>Landscape as an Attitude</em> 1979 Courtesy Daros Latinamerica Collection Zürich / photo Peter Schälchli

Conceptual art sometimes gets a bad rap for being too heavy-handed or dependent on intellectual prerequisites. However, flirting with the rigid foundations of conceptualism can result in pieces of art that are thoughtful without being ostentatious, and installations that are playful without being clumsy. These are the types of works for which Luis Camnitzer, currently the focus of a survey at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery in Vancouver, is known.

Camnitzer, a German-born Uruguayan based in New York City, is a respected artist, theorist and educator who’s made contributions to the field of conceptual art by focusing on the ways it can engage rather than exclude.

“I’m interested in minimal input and maximal output,” he says in a conversation posted to the Belkin’s YouTube channel. “I’m not reducing myself to a particular shape, form or material, or lack thereof. I’m more interested in how to activate an environment and people with some minimal stimulus so that there’s more room for resonance and more room for creativity on the side of the public.”

To trace this practice, the Belkin is showing more than 70 Camnitzer pieces created from 1966 to the present day. Showing elsewhere on the UBC campus is the installation Arbitrary Objects and Their Titles. For this work, on view at the Walter C. Koerner Library until December 31, Camnitzer has taken various unremarkable objects (such as a clothespin, an elastic band and a screw) found around the campus and attached them to a wall. Beneath them, he has scribbled equally unremarkable words on scraps of paper. It’s the kind of assemblage that might appear apathetic at first, but that gestures, like much of the artist’s work, towards a higher aim—recontextualizing the ways we order the world around us.

This article was first published online on October 20, 2011.

RELATED STORIES

  • Faces: The Eyes Have It

    Leave it to Scott Watson to put a rich curatorial spin on a permanent collection show. In the Belkin’s current exhibition, paintings, photographs, sculptures and videos explore how the human face relates to ideas of gender, race, class and history.

  • 2011 Preview: Facing the New Year

    From Steven Shearer at the Venice Biennale to a major survey of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller at home, 2011 promises to be an exciting year for Canadian art. Get your calendar set with our cross-country picks for the next 12 months.

  • Jamelie Hassan: International Developments

    London, Ontario’s Jamelie Hassan has consistently produced art that is international in its scope. Now the artist’s first major survey, on in Vancouver, articulates the vast political and cultural ground she’s covered.

 

FOUNDATION NEWS

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

ONLINE

  • Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller: Black Birds

    New York critic Joseph R. Wolin heads to the Park Avenue Armory where Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller are creating a buzz (and other sounds) at the US premiere of a dark, nightmarish installation originally created for the 2008 Biennale of Sydney.

  • Grange Prize 2012: Hot Shots

    One of Canada’s largest cash-value art prizes—$65,000 in total with $50,000 going to the winner, $5,000 to three runners-up—announced its finalists this week. Take in their wide-ranging works in this slideshow.

  • Wanda Koop: Into the Woods

    A visit to Wanda Koop’s cabin near Riding Mountain National Park in southern Manitoba proves intriguing for Vancouver critic Robin Laurence. There, Laurence writes, Koop bridges old Grey Owl myths with a new series of paintings on our increasingly digital culture.

  • Brad Tinmouth: Survival Strategies

    The basement of an art gallery may seem an unlikely place to create an emergency shelter. However, Xpace's lower gallery is an ideal setting for Brad Tinmouth's “If Times Get Tough or Even If They Don't,” which evokes a cold-war bunker.

  • Wim Delvoye: Blame it on Paris

    Silk-covered pigs, lattice-cut car tires and a tattooed man are just a few of the works that Belgian artist Wim Delvoye has shuttled into the old, Gothic wing of the Louvre this summer. Jill Glessing reviews, finding a terrific amalgam of high and low.

More Online

Report a problem